6 April 2007 | BA_Harrison
A shonky adaptation of Jules Verne's classic.
Very nearly qualifying for 'so bad, it's good' status, Spanish director Juan Piquer Simon's take on Jules Verne's classic tale is poorly acted, has some truly awful effects, and features the most inept bunch of explorers ever to be committed to celluloid. With a touch more manky monster action, and its tongue a bit further in cheek, this one could have rivalled 70s favourite At the Earth's Core for schlock value; as it stands, it is a fairly entertaining low budget adventure flick that is just about enough fun for it to warrant a viewing.
Kenneth More plays Prof. Otto Lindenbrock, a geologist who sets out on an expedition after discovering a secret route to the centre of the Earth. Together with his niece Glauben (Ivonne Sentis), a Prussian soldier, Axel (Pep Munné), and a shepherd named Hans (Frank Braña), Otto braves dangerous cave-ins, poisonous mushrooms, a perilous sea journey and prehistoric creatures.
Unlike James Mason's more than capable Oliver Lindenbrook (in the far superior 1959 movie Journey to the Center of the Earth), More's character is something of a bumbling fool. He is totally unprepared for the trip he undertakes and doesn't seem at all fazed by any setbacks (he loses his guidebook and water supply along the way, but continues regardless). His companions, who all seem quite happy to tag along, are equally irresponsible; they frequently wander off on their own with absolutely no regard for their own safety.
On discovering a huge underground ocean, the travellers build a raft, bump into some sea monsters (rubber glove puppets filmed in a bath), visit an island full of man-eating tortoises (the world's slowest predators) and get attacked by a giant ape (played by a man in a fancy-dress monkey suit). They eventually emerge from an erupting Stromboli, none the worse for wear.
All of this, believe it or not, is fairly faithful to Verne's novel, but Juan Piquer Simon, apparently not content with its level of silliness, ramps up the ridiculousness even further. Halfway through their journey, our intrepid gang meet a mysterious stranger called Olsen, who eventually turns out to be a time-travelling scientist! Fans of bad monster movies and silly 70s sci-fi cinema will probably want to check this film out; everyone else would be better off giving it a miss.